Saturday, November 3, 2012

Postcards from the Storm: Chris Pusateri, Common Time (Steerage Press, 2012) & Dobby Gibson, It Becomes You (Graywolf Press, 2013)

[Transcription: Dear (r), At first the storm was sublime, gloomy & frightening & called for "Goblin Market" & Halloween candy & wine.  Now the rain & wind are gone & we're stuck in the particular ennui of a long power outage.  Here's what I'm reading by candlelight... Common Time, Chris Pusateri (Steerage Press, 2012)--I've been thinking about text & index, recently, which points to this fascinating & peculiar little book.  The [contents] section provides a map of  poem fragments spanning the collection, a meditation on enumeration as narration, accretion as collection.  It's a community of texts in the Spicerian sense ("a mind a brain made plural/a crowd of breathing t-shirts//[there's no accounting for memory]" (4) that's also romantically/Romantically insistent on the singular--"People wouldn't understand/but a person might" (16).  The book's Modernist influences are varied: "narration is the second lie.  The first is the story it describes" (63, c.f. William Carlos Williams); "we shall not want/as we walk, we/as we are when we" (66, c.f. Oppen); "And shit is mercy,/Democrats are Republicans/DC is Disneyland/& my ass is a hat" (42, c.f. O'Hara).  When Pusateri asks, "Do you think we'll ever get around to having that/talk?" (79) these influences come together to interrogate the index of modern poetry, & what it might point to.

Also~ I just started reading It Becomes You by Dobby Gibson (Graywolf Press, 2013) & I'm just going to go out on a limb here & say this is The Best Book of Poetry to Read When Stuck Inside After a Storm on a Dark & Chilly Night.  (r), I know you avoid domestic epiphanies but the book's poetic treatments of fatherhood, marriage & Minnesota are too pure, fresh, true & fun to miss & it's not just that these poems are full of snow & birds, malls & TV & the last bites of food, though it is all of that.  The poems entertain & warm & surprise, which is a lot when it's late & the power is out.  "Beware of the wolves.  They've been raised by wolves" (44); "it's the/whales who have been/watching us all along" (3); "when the aliens finally do land/and decode the Greek/sticked ALL CAPS across the asses/of our sorority sisters' sweatpants" (18); "I whisper to the ghost" (34).  (r), aren't we just this sort of poetic creature?  In any case I'm glad poetry is a lo-tech creature comfort: "poetry will survive./If only in the form/of poetry's mere memory of poetry" (18).  I hope this finds you safe & warm.  More anon, R]